Of course, that’s not how they spun it. The headline is, “Raising The Floor, Not Just the Ceiling: To Reform Higher Ed, We Need A Federal Jobs Guarantee.”
Probably the single best proposal for higher education isn’t a higher-education proposal at all. A federal job guarantee has moved from fringe economic proposal to mainstream consideration. A recent Rolling Stone article may be the general-awareness tipping point, but it isn’t a new idea. For years there has been a steady drumbeat for a wage guarantee that would raise the floor on poverty and economic insecurity. Although you won’t hear much about it from sanitized memorials, Martin Luther King Jr. advocated for a guaranteed living wage. A federal job guarantee would reconfigure the emotional and financial cost of going to college. When living-wage jobs are contracting, people are willing to pay a premium for any leg up in the job market. Choosing college out of desperation justifies rising tuitions and predatory for-profit colleges that market themselves as insurance against job insecurity.
Which all explains why a job guarantee, which is usually considered a labor policy, could also be an education policy. The majority of incoming college freshmen are going to college because they want a job—not just any job, but a good job.
All you have to do is work backwards. People go to college because they want a good job. But people have always wanted to prosper rather than wilt in poverty. So people have always wanted as high a stream of revenue possible. But higher education was not as widespread until recently in human history. Why the sudden interest in higher education?
Because the good jobs required a specialized education.
So with the cause and effect relationship properly understood, a federal job guarantee is obviously stupid, even more so than Obama’s proposals. People go to school because they want a good job. The purpose of education has always been to equip people to fulfill these jobs. If there are no longer enough good jobs, then education (in that form) no longer has a purpose. Making tax- or debt-supported make-work jobs is just crazy.
So, rather than provide an argument for saving higher ed, the writer has just admitted that higher ed is no longer necessary. This means Obama and all the rest touting the value of education have been lying. None of them have been trying to help young adults find their best career path. Rather, they’ve been trying to divert them from finding their path and obfuscate the nature of their situation.
The fact that this nonsense makes it into print shows how backwards and superstitious our media culture has become. A job is work designed to fulfill a purpose. That purpose is not to give money to the person who is employed at the job. Rather it is to provide good or service that helps other people. Getting paid is what motivates people to find the right ways to serve or provide goods for others. We are setting on a path of making our government completely corrupt and degrade this entire process of social interaction just so we can keep colleges making money.
Slates “Federal job guarantee” is really an entitlement for useless college professors.